Rainwater Harvesting without the Code for Sustainable Homes

9000680K barrique dark brown 270l photo8Here in the UK, our water supplies are under a great strain due to a number of contributing factors. The main identifiable issues are our increasing individual consumption of water, an ever-expanding population, and alterations to the patterns of rainfall in the country as a result of recent climate change.

Such issues have been reflected in a number of different Government policies. Legislation such as the Building Regulations, and documents such as the Code for Sustainable Homes and BREEAM have called for rainwater harvesting schemes to be implemented to cause mains water consumption to be reduced. Economising methods and the substitution of potable water for harvested rainwater in applications such as toilet flushing, clothes washing, and garden watering have all been suggested as water-saving initiatives.

The response of industry has been largely to reconfigure the ancient historic practice of rainwater harvesting (RWH) in a modern and very reliable way which automatically cleans, stores, and supplies aesthetically pleasing (though not potable) water to sundry services on demand. This is accomplished by harvesting the rainwater which falls on the roofs of homes, businesses, and other buildings.

However, the Code for Sustainable Homes – one of the main advocates for rainwater harvesting in the UK – came under threat late last year as it was proposed that it could be scrapped and partly folded into the Building Regulations instead. The Environmental Audit Committee chairman Joan Walley said:  “The Secretary of State should think again before demolishing the Code for Sustainable Homes. It has been a big success in driving up home building standards.

9000357K noblesse charcoal 270l photo10“Hundreds of thousands of homes have to be built in the coming decades. Smart energy and water saving measures – which will ultimately save homeowners money on their bills – must become the norm if we want our homes to be fit for the future.”

Without the Code, it is feared that standards will drop in sustainable building and that the importance of rainwater harvesting in particular has not been appreciated.

Fionn Stevenson, head at Sheffield School of Architecture, has said: “My main concern is that the government, in its haste to ‘simplify’ everything, does not throw the ecological baby out with the ‘red tape’ bathwater.

“It concerns me, for example, to see that simple, passive rainwater harvesting is dropped in ‘areas with no water shortages’ – completely missing the point that such moves also save energy and resource use by localising water use, and provide much needed resilience if there is a central failure in the waterworks.”

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